July 15, 2004

The NY Times has again pissed me off, again

Anyone who has stopped by and casually read my blog knows that I have problems with the NY Times. Today, I found another stunning example of a biased and annoying article about the collapse of civil society among the Palestinians. All the blame for this collapse is laid squarely at Israel's door. Not one word of this long article mentions how the Palestinians brought this upon themselves when Arafat chose to call out the intifada over continuing to negotiate with the Israelis. Not one word about the numerous and horrific suicide bombings and shootings perpetrated against civilians by Palestinians which brought about an Israeli reaction.

It does mention that the PA now receives UN and European support of up to 1/3 of the GNP, which is critical because the Palestinians have wrecked their own economy and destroyed the possibility of any foreign investment through their own corruption and their own violence. To put this aid into perspective, "[t]hat works out to roughly $310 a person, more aid per capita than any country has received since World War II, the World Bank says."

I am teetering on the brink of cancelling my subscription.

Posted by Random Penseur at July 15, 2004 11:28 AM

Don't forget that a large percentage of that aid is stolen by Arafat and his cronies.

How much? Most estimates are that Arafat's fortune now exceeds $1B, which would roughly translate to about $30M/year skimmed off over 35 years of PLO, then PA, thugocracy. Granted, some comes from Arafat's investments, such as his 10% stake in a Kuwaiti cement company that--surprise!--routinely wins building contracts for all those buildings demolished by the IDF in retaliation for Arafat's bombings.

But it's much easier to skim off foreign aid-- especially when there is nothing remotely like democratic oversight of the shambles that is the Palestinian "Authority," which as a jkeptocracy would surely rank up there with Saddam's regime and those of CAE's Mombassa (billions stolen), Brazil's Mellor (about $2B), Ukraine's Kuchma (hundreds of millions), or our klepto-friend ot the south, Fidel (probably $1-2 billion stolen).

So how much is Arafat skimming off now? If in past decades he skimmed tens of millions, and if the annual foreign aid then was $50-100M, then it's fair to assume that Arafat applies the customary third-world kleptocratic formula of 10% (cf Saddam and Oil4Fraud).

If the aid now totals $1B per year, and if the 10%-yassir-that's-my-money rule is applied, then a certain numbered account in Geneva is probably taking in about $100M in new funds each year.

Nice work if you can get it.

Posted by: thibaud at July 15, 2004 12:05 PM

Actually, the article doesn't lay all blame at the feet of the Israelis. It's pretty clear from the article's descriptions of Fatah, Hamas, Al Aqsa and various individuals that the Palestinian leadership is completely, irrevocably fucked up.

Anyone who suggests that Israel should seek to live peacefully with a political entity that's equal parts Milosevic, John Gotti and Khaddafi must be insane.

This conflict will end when one side is defeated. That side will not be Israel.

Posted by: thibaud at July 15, 2004 12:15 PM

Go ahead -- cancel that subscription to the NYT. A short while back I finally canceled my subscription to the Boston Globe and have found I actually can live quite nicely without it.

Can you get the New York Sun where you live?

Posted by: Mark C N Sullivan at July 15, 2004 01:29 PM

That is why I read my newspapers online except for my local paper. I read the Jerusalem Post for a while trying to get a better picture of the Middle East and concomitant issues. Actually,the BBC website usually offered more data and insight on a regular basis. I still wonder if all of these conflicts will be "solved" with a nuclear blast. Then all of us will glow in the dark.

Posted by: Azalea at July 15, 2004 03:28 PM

I can get the Sun, as a matter of fact, Mark. It's just that it isn't as good a daily. I'm considering the Wall Street Journal or the NY Post.

Thibaud: Thanks for your contribution. Interesting point and I have nothing to add to it.

Azalea: I pretty much loathe the BBC with even more passion than the NY Times. They make no pretense about a fair approach to the middle east.

Posted by: RP at July 15, 2004 04:00 PM

I think the best thing to do is to get the Sun for New York news and some national, and the Financial Times for a fair amount of national and lots of world news.

But then I'm a diehard Sun fan (http://www.andrewcusack.com/blog/2004/06/quoth_the_sun_i.php).

Posted by: Andrew Cusack at July 15, 2004 04:35 PM

I worked in Israel as an archaeologist, travelling through much of the country over the course of several seasons worth of digging. After seeing the Palestinian settlements/camps and seeing the impoverished lifestyle that many of them had (even before 2000), I can't help but think that there is another significant reason why Arafat and his cronies may be skimming off the top. I think that the blame for the collapse of Palestinian society is the result of the machinations of Arafat and other Arab leaders, and this is a good example. By pushing their own people to the brink, they purposely create the "desperate times, desperate measures" mentality that they can use to further their terrorist programs. It seems to me, that an added benefit of this skimming is the creation of a large community of people who are increasingly desperate and hopeless--perfect places to recruit young people who see nothing but a bleak future ahead of them. This certainly doesn't apply to all of the terrorist crazies, some of whom are clearly wacko jihadis, but I think an impoverished lifestyle does have an impact, especially on the younger kids. Just look at all the studies done in the U.S. about poverty and crime.

Posted by: Mandalei at July 15, 2004 05:52 PM
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